Downsizing is a major lifestyle change for seniors, a transition that must be approached carefully and systematically to succeed. An older adult who’s lived happily in the same home for years, perhaps all their adult life, can’t be expected to just pick up and move and resume life as usual. Downsizing means you’ve chosen to live more simply, to unburden yourself of too much house and too many belongings so you can have the freedom to do as you wish and go where you like. Finding a suitable new home and getting rid of cherished belongings with years of memories attached to them is a process that needs to be taken seriously to make everything go smoothly.
Do Your Homework
The first step is to know where you’re going before you begin decluttering and packing. That requires doing plenty of research in the area you want to live and finding a smaller home that meets your mobility and safety needs at the right price. The cost of a 2 bedroom home can vary widely depending on where you’re located and where you're planning to downsize. While considering your new home, keep in mind the potential expense of making accessibility improvements.
Upgrades are most often needed in the bathroom and kitchen (an average bathroom remodel can cost around $10,000). Some renovations may be done within two weeks, but larger-scale upgrades may run as long as four months.
Check out home prices and have a strong idea of what your house is worth. Seek out the assistance and experience of friends and family, and listen carefully to your realtor about preparing your home for sale. If necessary, seek out a senior move manager who can help you through the decluttering process and who will make moving considerably easier.
This is often the hardest part of downsizing for senior citizens. Decluttering requires organization and patience, so you don’t make a mistake and get rid of something you wanted to keep. You’re trying to create space and right-size your belongings based on where you're moving, but losing something that means a lot can make moving a very negative experience, leaving you emotionally compromised at the worst possible time. Be as discriminating as possible as you go through each item, moving room by room, so you’re ready to start a new life in a new location with plenty of square footage and less stuff to worry about.
Stick with two piles, your “keep-it” pile and your “get-rid-of-it” pile. If you’re not sure about something, it’s probably time for it to go. Assess each item based on whether you’ve used it within the past six months. Consider giving things away to someone for whom your belongings may have special meaning, such as a friend or family member.
Take video or photos of your new home so you know what will fit where. After all, there’s absolutely no point in hauling along a couch if there’s no space for it. Many items can be sold through consignment stores, while things like clothes, appliances and old kitchen equipment can also be given to charitable organizations.
Take Your Time
Don’t assume this will be an easy thing to do, even if you’ve made peace with moving and feel prepared for it. Our belongings remind us of loved ones, both living and passed on, and evoke memories of happy times, so don’t be surprised if you’re overcome by very strong emotions along the way. That’s why physically handling each object before deciding is important: it’s a way of saying goodbye to your past life as you begin a new chapter.
Moving everything you own can be a traumatic experience if done haphazardly. Once you’re through the decluttering process, it’s time to pack and safeguard your precious mementos, and finding a moving company that can help you do that. Read plenty of online customer reviews before selecting one, make sure they have experience working with seniors, and consider engaging a senior move manager in your area so there’s someone on hand who understands what it’s like for older adults to say goodbye to the life they’ve known for years.
The need to downsize is an inevitability, though it may mean different things to different people. It could mean transitioning to an apartment, an assisted living facility, or a smaller house. Whatever you choose, make sure it’s the right solution for your needs at the right price.
Ms. Bridges hopes to inspire and assist other seniors on their journey to health and wellness in their golden years.
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